Skip Navigation

Go
Species Search:
{pagetitle}

The latest in news, stories and just plain fun from the world of eNature.com.

Recent Entries

Monthly Archives

Despite The News Reports, It’s A Lot Safer Than You Might Think Out There!
Posted on Monday, July 25, 2016 by eNature
Ghost-faced Bat
Ghost-faced Bat
© Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International
Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear
© G. C. Kelley/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Every summer, the news is full of reports of folks encountering wildlife in unexpected places.

And this summer has been no exception— there have been reports of people unexpectedly encountering bears, sharks, mountain lions and even beavers.

Given all that, it’s good to know that it’s a lot safer out there than TV’s Shark Week or When Animals Attack would lead you to believe.

Sometimes fear serves us well. It keeps us from taunting bears, which is definitely a good thing. But fear can also be unfounded. As the numbers prove, the animals that most likely scare people the most seldom pose a real threat.

Consider the snake. Of the 137 different snake species in the United States, only 20 are venomous, and the majority of these are rattlesnakes, which thankfully carry warning devices (rattles) to alert potential victims.

The risks of a harmful snakebite are further reduced by the fact that half of all the bites administered by venomous snakes are benign—no venom is released. Thus in the United States, where some 7,000 snakebites are reported annually, a mere 15 or so prove fatal.

Another feared animal is the spider. The best known venomous U.S. species are the widows, which reside in all the lower 48 states. But despite their tendency to live near human habitations, widows are very shy, and it usually takes some effort to get close to them.

The other famous “deadly” spider in the U.S. is the Brown Recluse. It’s found only in a handful of states, and even their bites are rare. As for tarantulas, our scariest spiders, the truth is that there are no dangerously poisonous tarantulas anywhere in the world.

Like spiders, bats are almost universally feared, so it’s probably a good thing that few people know just how many species are out there. Most states have more than 10 species of bats, and roughly 1,000 species exist worldwide.

But the only time bats pose a threat to humans is as carriers of rabies. Even then the threat is infinitesimal. A Colorado study showed that of 233 cases of bats biting humans, where 30 percent of the bats were rabid, none of the victims contracted the disease.

The most widespread large predator in the United States, meanwhile, is the Mountain Lion, and as its numbers increase in areas, the fear of attacks rises. But even among researchers who devote huge amounts of time to tracking these animals, many have never seen a live specimen in the wild. During the entire last century there were only 12 recorded fatalities attributed to Mountain Lions in all of Canada and the United States.

And then there are sharks, which are probably responsible for keeping more people out of the water than the smaller organisms that should really be feared. Annually in the United States there are less than a dozen shark attacks, with one or two fatalities. By comparison, some 300 people are struck by lightning every year.

The numbers don’t lie. Without a doubt, the most dangerous thing a person can do when embarking on an outdoor adventure is driving to the trailhead in a car.

So head on out and enjoy nature— just be careful if you have to drive to get there!

eNature's Poisonous and Dangerous Species Field Guide Will Tell You What To Avoid in Your Neighborhood »

Here are some tips to follow if you happen to encounter a mountain lion »

(0) CommentsPermalink

Comments

A Couple Of Comments About Leaving Comments: Only your name will appear with your comment and, since we now moderate comments to stop spammers, your comment will appear once it's approved by the blog moderator.


Name (required):

Email (required):

Please enter the word you see below:


Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments

By submitting content, I acknowledge I have read and agree to eNature’s Terms of Use

eNature Web Site Terms of Use
1. Messages and other content posted on the eNature web site express the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of eNature. Discussions on the eNature web site about other organizations, events, or resources and links to other organizations’ web sites do not constitute an endorsement by eNature.

2. By using the eNature web site, you agree not to post any message or other content that is obscene, vulgar, slanderous, threatening, or that violates any laws. Personal attacks, hateful, and racially or ethnically derogatory comments will not be tolerated.

3. You agree not to post, reproduce, distribute or exploit any information on the eNature web site for advertising or commercial purposes.

4. Content on the eNature web site may include intellectual property that is protected under copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws. Such laws generally prohibit the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of protected materials. By posting messages or other content, you represent and warrant that (a) you have the legal right to reproduce and distribute such content and (b) eNature may reproduce, adapt, perform, display, and distribute such content in any form, worldwide and in perpetuity. eNature reserves the right to delete, move or edit any messages or other content for any reason, in eNature’s sole discretion.

5. eNature does not warrant that any information on the eNature web site is complete or accurate, and will not be liable any direct, indirect, incidental, punitive or consequential damages that may result from the use or inability to use the eNature web site, including the use of or reliance on any information made available on the web site.

6. The eNature reserves the right to prohibit access by any user who violates these Terms of Use, and to make changes to these Terms of Use at any time in its sole discretion.


Advanced Search
Subscribe to newsletters

 

 

© 2008 eNature.com